Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Excellent 9 News Story on The Difficulties in Accessing Mental Healthcare In Colorado

Last night, 9 News investigative reporter Jeremy Jojola reported on the story a 26 year-old man that could have ended very, very badly. This person has Schizophrenia and was extremely paranoid and angry. He was stockpiling guns and ammunition in his mother's basement, and he threatened to kill his mother and brother on several occasions. The fear was that he had the potential to kill his family and/or head to a public venue and start shooting.

His mother did everything she could to try to get her son the treatment he needed. Since he was an adult, she was limited in terms of what she could do, though. Repeatedly, he either refused treatment or would be turned away because of lack of funding.

Frustrated and scared (for herself and the public), his mother had no choice but to turn her son in to the local police, who found his guns and charged him with several felony weapons possession charges. Fortunately, this man did not kill himself or anyone else, but he is now embroiled in the criminal justice system. Rather than getting the treatment he desperately needed through a functioning mental health system, he will start receiving mental healthcare in jail.

I was interviewed for the story, and I am proud to have been involved with it in a small way. The journalist, Jeremy Jojola, is using his contacts from the story to gather information about the problems of accessing mental health services in Colorado, which he will present to the Colorado State Legislature.

Also, when you are watching the story, it is extremely important to remember that this is a very rare case. The research shows very clearly that individuals with mental illness are no more dangerous than anyone else. This is just one of those cases where the individual's mental illness increased his risk level for violence, and treatment likely could have been tremendously helpful in keeping him from becoming a danger to himself or others.

Here is the story:

If you are in Colorado and have experience with the mental health system, I encourage you to share your experience with Jeremy Jojola and 9 News here. They are compiling everyone's thoughts to share with the state legislature. Please remember, they are only looking for experiences in the State of Colorado.

Thanks for reading-- Max Wachtel, Ph.D.


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